I'm reading Professor Kakie's Facebook tonight and I see she's posted a link to this New York Times article:
FTC to rule Blogs Must Disclose Gifts or Pay for Reviews
Since I suck as a blogger, that link probably won't work, so here's the gist of what the New York Times said:
"For bloggers who review products, this means that the days of an unimpeded flow of giveaways may be over. More broadly, the move suggests that the government is intent on bringing to bear on the Internet the same sorts of regulations that have governed other forms of media, like television or print."
To which I say: WHAT? Bloggers get an unimpeded flow of giveaways?!
And parenthetically: where do I sign up?
Now, I work in the newspaper biz, so I am very aware of the practice of "pay to play," and I have never, ever engaged in it. There are plenty media folks in this town who will happily pucker up whenever an advertiser says "we'll pay you X if you say Y." Lots of people ASK for that kinda consideration, but no one's ever successfully gotten it. Not from me. Not from anybody I've worked with, or for. Even the delightful studio advertisers are painfully aware that if a movie sucks (for example), I'll be the first to say so. Out loud. In print. Online. On Facebook. On Twitter. Anywhere I get the chance really. Even if I got a free pass, or hosted the Sneak Preview. I often get free tickets to fancy parties, and I'm sure the hosts know I'll probably write about it... but they definitely never know what I'm gonna write (and it's not unusual for me not to get invited back).
If I like something, on the other hand -- for example, Bacon, Ambien, and Sam Shepard -- I'll say that too. Ambien certainly SHOULD put me on their payroll, but no, I pay for it just like all the other mortals do.
As a blogger, however -- clearly a naive and inexperienced one -- no one's ever even suggested any "promotional consideration." Hmmmph. I'm feeling kinda offended actually. Because I would totally be the Kathy Griffin of Lexington's D-List given half a chance. (I still remember her getting that sofa paid for on Season One of the D-List.)
Now that I'm learning how all this stuff works though, let me make it clear: I bought the Box of Bandit Wine that I served on Friday. The obvious delight and glee on Jupiter's face is clearly unforced. The subsequent endorsement from our favorite stereotype-busting corporate lawyer who I enlisted/forced to bartend was equally genuine and unsolicited: "Maybe I was just thirsty, but..." (I am pretty sure he said it was OK to quote him on that... And if it isn't, I am pretty sure he will sue me or enjoin me or something). The Wine Boxers are now following me on Twitter, which is funny, because I order maybe two drinks a year (and I rarely finish those).
As for my college buddy who saw me at the Food Show the next day -- she DID give me that fabulous pillar of salt in which we can now serve margaritas. I think she gave it to me because 1. She knew perfectly well I would be a poster girl for the "Lick it. Love it. Live it" campaign. And, 2. She went to college with me for heaven's sake, and as a classmate, she definitely has first-hand experience of my ability to get the word out (for both good, and for evil).
Because of course, here's the double-edged sword of giving me stuff, or telling me stuff, or even knowing me -- if something sucks, I'll say it sucks. And to anyone who then seems surprised, my response is always the same.
It's a variation on the famous tortoise/scorpion story where the scorpion asks the tortoise for a ride across the river and the tortoise says, Forget it, you'll sting me to death. The scorpion says he won't, because that'd be stupid, since they'd both drown. Halfway across, the scorpion stings the tortoise and as they're sinking, the tortoise asks why. And the scorpion says, "it's my nature."
The version I learned from my grandmother (subsequently embroaced by one of my favorite boyfriends from my 20s, for reasons that soon became obvious) was about a Woman who's walking through a blizzard and comes upon a snake who asks if he can take shelter inside her shirt, for warmth. She says of course not, because he'll bite her. He says No, no. They both need the warmth, and if she dies, he'll die too. So she puts him inside her blouse, where he promptly does bite her, and as they're both slowly succumbing to the cold, she asks why. His answer is, "You knew I was a snake when you picked me up."
So that's what I say to anyone chagrined by what I write: You knew I was a snake when you picked me up.
I shoulda known that boyfriend was a little too fond of that expression, and it is absolutely true that he already had a perfectly good girlfriend when I met him.
To mix the metaphors, he turned out to be a hard dog to keep on the porch...but I DID know he was a Snake when I picked him up.